November 28, 2012: Far From The Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

When it comes to book recommendations, my friend Lissa is rarely wrong. So when she urged me to go right out and buy a $40, 706 pp. book , I did.

And yes, Far From The Tree is truly amazing. Worth every penny. (Almost) every sentence is a gem: Like this one from the Introduction: “Though I have gathered statistics, I have relied primarily on anecdotes because numbers imply trends, while stories acknowledge chaos.”

[FYI: The queue to be the next person to read my water-damaged-from reading-at-the-(Palm Springs)pool-copy is, so far, exactly one person. So get in line!]

Andrew Solomon spent 6 years interviewing over 300 parents and their children, families who know all about deafness, being homosexual, autistic, gifted, et al because the children of these families are so; in other words, families whose children were not, as the saying goes, apples that fell close to the tree. He writes beautifully about love and ambivalence, about coping and falling apart. He quotes all kinds of parents, all kinds of studies. He uses words like “shimmering humanity.” If he finds a parent overbearing—this is especially true in the “Prodigies” chapter—he says so. If he discovers a parent whose caregiving overwhelms him with its tenderness and wisdom, his writing about that parent will make you cry.

So get in line!



Join the Conversation


  1. just curious–does he write about hearing children of deaf parents? straight children of gay parents? etc.

  2. Still reading it! Am on the section re parents of criminals, having just finished the section of children born because of rape. So, as you can easily imagine, painful, slow reading.

  3. The contrast between “where is everybody, why aren’t they helping” and “look at all the people pitching in” is the difference between paralysis and hope. It’s all how you look at it, isn’t it?

  4. I remember when Patricia Watson, “A fierce Quaker lady” to quote her memorial program, went missing from FMC for a week or so. It turned out she’d been caregiving an ailing brother-in-law.
    And I realized that progress/social action is partially where it is because activists like Patricia put their activism on Hold, sometimes, to fly to California to take care of a family member.

  5. I would like to get in line to read Andrew Solomon. I loved the other book of his I read on depression. I have read about this one in The New Yorker, I believe. He is a sensitive strong writer. I do not care about the length particularly. I have been reading long books this year: The New Jim Crow, Warmth of Other Sons, plus biographies of Jefferson, the Hemmings, Franklin. One of the many benies of senior housing is the random appearance of books other tenants have read. My reading has expanded. Thank you Patricia.

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